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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The NBA's COVID-19 protocol is necessarily rigorous, but it's thus far had a disproportionate effect on teams' training staffs.

The state of play: The league's 153-page document includes myriad new responsibilities, with team employees in charge of testing, contact tracing and more.

  • These roles tend to land on trainers, stretching them thin on a daily basis and hindering their ability to perform their actual job.
  • A typical trainer's game day can last up to 16 hours, including two separate prep sessions (one for the morning shootaround; one for the game) and four treatment sessions per player.
  • Now, on top of that, they're also responsible for the time-consuming, logistical aspects of corralling players for testing and compliance.

What they're saying: ESPN's Baxter Holmes interviewed trainers and league officials about their experience so far this season.

  • Decline in player care: "What scares me — and I know it's happening — is that their normal job of doing health care on players [is impaired]," said one league health source. "I've had some trainers tell me, 'I haven't touched a player in two weeks because I've been so busy doing all this logistics and testing and all that.' That's concerning."
  • Trainers' mental health: "Every waking hour seems to be committed to [the protocols]," said one head athletic trainer. "You wonder, 'God, I barely got through today, how am I going to do this another 100-something times?'"

The big picture: Trainers bear the brunt of the daily rigors, but they're just part of a larger system whose efficacy trails its intent.

  • NBA contact tracing follows the CDC guidance that 15 minutes of exposure within six feet of a known positive in a 24-hour period constitutes close contact, which then requires isolation.
  • Yes, but: While on-court tracking shows opponents don't spend more than six minutes in close contact during a game, it doesn't take into account the increased viral shedding caused by high intensity exercise, infectious disease expert Amesh Adalja told The Athletic (subscription).

The bottom line: NBA training staffs are stretched thin despite employing up to eight people. So you can imagine what this is like at the college or high school levels, where there are far fewer trainers, but the risk of COVID-19 is no less real.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

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